Finding Your Words

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

The fated question: “What did you do over the weekend?”


Mind: Weekend. There was a weekend. I must have done things. BLANK Why can’t I think of what happened? Amnesia—no, I didn’t hit my head. Memory loss?

Eyes: See expectantly waiting face.

Mind: Oh no, I haven’t answered. Must answer.

Mouth: “Uhhh.”

Sound familiar? Whether it’s in speech or written, finding your words can be awkward at times.

I read this great article on the science behind why introverts struggle to speak. It puts the difficulty of finding words in perspective.

Here’s some things to remember when you find yourself with a blank mind.

It’s okay to take time to find your words. The pressure of rushing never helps, whether you’re put on the spot or judging yourself for not having an answer. Take time to alleviate the pressure so the right words can arrive naturally. You might ask for more time to answer a question or soothe your inner critic before returning to your pen.

Take heart in your own personal strengths and preferences. You may be generally more comfortable writing or speaking, and that’s great. Affirm your gifts. Introverts, even if you struggle with describing your weekend, you may find ease in writing. Extroverts on the other end of the spectrum, it’s okay if it’s easier to voice-to-text your first draft.

Find your own ways to do what you need to do. When you struggle to instantly express yourself, you might try writing a letter or preparing a script ahead of time.

Feed your creative self. Whether that’s through your writing practice, brainstorming with a friend, or taking a writing class, fuel your inner creator. Take the urge to create seriously and value your whole self, knowing that awkward!you isn’t the only part of your whole being.

How do you use your gifts to find your words and create purpose in your life?

Choosing Your Ride

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash
Ways to approach writing

Pretend you’re visiting Arizona and want to head back home to California.  You have multiple ways to get there.

  • Fly directly by plane.
  • Take a road trip by car.
  • Horseback?  

Just like travel, there are many ways to approach writing.

1) Sometimes, you know exactly what you need to write and how you will get there.  You plan out each section.  Then, you write, following the outline.  You might use logic to solve any problems you encounter.

This method follows the traditional masculine energy archetype: practical, logical, focused, goal-oriented.  It’s like taking a directly scheduled route to your destination.

2) Other times, you aren’t sure where exactly you’re heading.  You might do a free-write or stream-of-consciousness writing session to get all your ideas in the open.

This method follows the traditional feminine energy archetype: receptive, intuitive, imaginative.  It’s like starting a road trip without a rigid structure.

In my recent Story Journeying class, we were without the formal structure.  Participants had no clue what story would emerge when they began writing.  But through guided meditation, prompts, and writing time, they found meaning for their raw content.  By the last class, the core thread and purpose of their writing became clear.  It’s a satisfyingly magical experience to let the heart lead and give the head a rest.

3) Besides planning and intuitive creating, you might play your way to the goal!  This is how I guide kids using the Writerly Play method at Society of Young Inklings.  It’s a game-based approach to the creative process.  

You can use virtually any method to get to the same outcome; there’s no right or wrong way to write.  You may use a mix of approaches, starting with a receptive brainstorming and then channeling your energy into a single focus once you’ve identified it.

As I’ve worked with clients with diverse writing preferences and natural tendencies, I’ve noticed that it isn’t just about the destination, but what it’s like to get there.  You can feel simple pleasure in creative immersion for no selective purpose… the content generated from this process can become valuable down the road.  On the other hand, it can be important and satisfying to get it all out directly without taking many detours to take in the scenery.

How do you want to write?  It might look different from those around you.  Set your intention for your destination, and discover your fun, exciting, and magical experiences along the way.

Happy writing!

When in doubt, ask your child-self

Say you have a big ol’ reaction when you’re stuck in your creative project. Maybe it seems like more frustration and distress than the situation warrants. You might even feel silly later, or embarrassed for getting so worked up about nothing. All of these are quite common.

You may feel lost between your creativity and feelings. In those moments, it can be helpful to connect to your child-self.

As a sensitive child, I had big emotions.

But there was no room for big emotions in my environment. I learned that excessive emotions were unacceptable or humiliating. With messages like “stop crying,” I was perceived as stronger if I had control over or hid my emotions.

Messages through words, behaviors, actions showed me acceptable norms. Unfortunately, they didn’t leave much room for my emotions.

I didn’t allow myself to feel, because the feelings were too big. They ended up becoming confusing and overwhelming. So I shut them off… which of course made them come out sideways in unanticipated ways.

This might be familiar to you, too. It’s tied to a common cultural experience where thoughts are valued over feelings. And we’re told not to feel.

What I missed was validation, to know it was okay to feel what I was feeling. Because then I could parse through the feelings. Without the validation, I thought there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t process them.

As an adult, the good news is as I put effort into shifting my patterns, I’ve gotten better at managing and understanding my emotions. When times of distress inevitably happen, there are tools in my toolbox to support me in life as well as creativity.


When you’re having reactions to challenges that feel bigger than they “should” be…

  1. Remember your child-self still exists within your adult-self and needs care. Ask your child-self what it would like to express; and what old messages it got that said these feelings were not okay. (E.g. stop crying)
  2. What would that child liked to have received? (E.g. validation)
  3. Can you give yourself some of what your child is needing? (E.g. If it’s validation, remind yourself it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. It’s a normal reaction to what you’re experiencing. Name each emotion and trace its cause.)
  4. Feel it and let it in. That can mean both the pain of not getting what you needed and the comfort you can give yourself now.
  5. Let yourself observe how it is to do this for yourself. It might be easy, you might have to come back to it. Take a breath and appreciate yourself for whatever in this process was useful to you. However you do it, you’re making progress.

Be really gentle with yourself; inner child work can be extremely tender. Many of us didn’t experience complete safety in childhood, whether that is physical or emotional safety. So give yourself credit every time you’re able to connect with your child-self.

This is a great exercise to do in writing. It’s a muscle to strengthen; you don’t need to be good at it the first time you go through it. It took years for me to patch a rocky connection to my child-self.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

When overwhelmed by unfinished ideas…

Maybe you’ve worked for hours and it’s still not complete. You have no juice left. You’re impatient and overwhelmed.

Maybe you feel suffocated by the weight of your unfinished ideas. Or drown in the distance between idealized vision and reality.


I crashed like that after my creative writing storm several weeks ago.

Clearly it was time to give those rough drafts space to breathe and focus on other things. A half-finished rough draft can feel as raw as a fresh wound. Especially when coming down from a creative high. Picking at the tenderness by constantly revisiting the drafts isn’t helpful.

I recognized that I needed to stop and rest. As the creative inspiration faded, I tried to hold onto the good feelings and eke out just a little more juice. Despair and depletion, spinning in mental energy without making forward progress on projects—it was time for a break.


The break helped me see I’d lost sight of the progress I’d made. It’s hard to talk about things when they are unformed and developing. How do you describe a baby before it’s born? You know it exists. But you don’t know how it will act or how it will look. You may be excited and uncertain. There’s a tender protectiveness knowing it may not survive or be all that you want it to be.

That’s how I felt about my drafts. Excited and uncertain. Not wanting to name my works before I really knew who they were.


There’s a few things that helped me tip the scales back into excitement from uncertainty. And find perspective.

Feelings aren’t always the truth. If you feel despair—saying to yourself “you won’t complete this, you’re just a dreamer and perfectionist”—question it.

You may have forgotten the progress you’ve already made. So check your hard drive, check your folders, check your journal, and remember.

It’s helpful to make lists:

  • What you’ve done already. (Projects, ideas, pieces that are in the final stages.)
  • What’s nearly done. (A midway draft you’ve put significant time, effort, or energy into.)
  • What you’ve begun. (Pieces worked on moderately.)
  • What feels like an exciting idea, but will take a few steps before progress can be made. (The list is a great place for ideas that may not happen for 5 years.)

Remember times when you DID successfully accomplish completion. Notice the good-feeling qualities they contain.

It seems like trite advice, but sometimes I have to ask myself, am I having fun? Or am I doing this because I think I should? That feeling of expansive open excitement can be the best indicator of which idea to continue dreaming on.

Being in the darkness is part of the journey. Along with the highs come the lows.

When you’re in the depths, remember: Progress isn’t always in the mirror. Or linear.

I’m curious how you honor the stages of your creative cycle. Let me know.

When Inspiration Strikes, The Possibilities Can Surprise You

A 5,000 word short story came out of me last Sunday.

By “came out of me,” I mean the first draft flowed through my fingertips onto the document. No forcing, no pushing, no straining. Just steady writing over the course of several hours.

It started off as a simple idea. Then it turned into dialogue I could hear in my head.

The dialogue carried the story through completion.

I can hardly believe it. Every time I experience inspiration like this, I feel awe at the magical quality of creative writing.

How did the first draft have such ease?

I typically struggle with plot in my stories. I overthink it. Question it during development.

The plot in this story just kinda happened, unfolding with the dialogue.

I was very present with each scene that spilled out onto the page. And at the very end, I knew. I went to myself, “Ohhhh. I understand why I needed to write this story on this day.” I may never fully understand how it actually happened, but I do have insights on what it means to me.

And how it can help you as a writer as well. I’ll share more about this with you during Story Journeying (registration deadline May 15).
Story Journeying is about finding ease in creation. It may look different for you, but you can let your stories emerge. Can’t wait to see you there.

Writing Is Hard Work… But It’s Worth It

man working hard while writing
Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

“Writing feels hard. Like work.” An attendee at Time To Write shared that and asked if others agreed. There was nodding all around.

I was grateful she named it.

Writing takes a surprising amount of work. It takes time. It takes effort to think, process, revise. It can take hours, weeks, even years to finish a piece.

People don’t usually come to me because they love writing and it’s easy. People usually come to me for help because they’re struggling with writing in some way.

People tell me: “It’s taking so long to write a simple thing.”
“It should be more enjoyable. Others seem to be having fun, why does it not feel like that to me?”

I understand why they feel that way. There are so many challenges in writing. Feeling blocked, procrastinating, not feeling confident, etc.

I am not immune. Writing, unfortunately, isn’t fun all the time—especially when life is getting in the way. There’s no predicting or controlling the creative flow. I can be dry for weeks, months, even years at a time with no urge to write… and then the fire will ignite in the most unexpected way.

Here’s what I know:

  • It helps to share both the good and the hard parts. To talk about it, and see others nodding. To know you’re not alone.
  • It’s worth it. Even if no one else’s eyes ever fall on those drafts. You can look back through your folders and be transported to when you wrote it, and who you were then.
  • Profound outcomes arise from overcoming struggle. Even struggling with your inner critic.
  • Writing is just like life. The way you approach writing can be reflected in the way you approach life. My tendencies as a writer are reflected in my life: perfectionism and working on multiple things at the same time. I’m constantly learning.
  • The more you do something, the easier it gets. Immersing in the work leads to progress over time.
  • Writing doesn’t always have to be hard. As you overcome struggles and practice, it can continue to surprise you.

  • The flow state, the high, and the completed product of something you’ve created is thrilling. I’m here to help you get there.
  • P.S. Explore your writing experience with mindful presence while telling your story. Join me for Story Journeying (registration deadline May 15).
    Practice getting out of the way of creativity. I’m looking forward to writing with you.

    Profound timing: The right story at the right time

    A few weeks ago, on April 15, 2021, I was looking through the library’s limited selection for a book. I saw one where stickers obscured the cover, but under that I was drawn to its image of a paw on a hand.   

    When I picked it up, I realized it was the perfect book at the perfect time.  

    Have you noticed when you’re drawn to a particular story or character, there’s something about it you’re needing?  

    Finding the right story at the right time can be profound.  

    Source: mutualrescue.org
    Image: book cover of Mutual Rescue by Carol Novello with Ginny Graves

    I didn’t realize why I was drawn to the book when I went to the library, but that book spoke to a deep need. 

    Mutual Rescue shares compelling true stories of the positive transformation adopted animals often have on humans. 

    April 14 is the day my soulmate cat Leyna jumped into my lap for the first time. It’s been over two and half years since her death, and especially around this time of year, my longing for a bonded animal companion feels etched into every breath. 

    It’s funny—when I walked out of the library disappointed in finding only one book, I didn’t realize the power of this one book.  Or how badly I needed it.  Until I read it.

    I was lit by the magic of human-animal connection.  The words of Mutual Rescue resonated deeply and filled me with awe.  I felt relief in the medicine of stories that blazed into deeper, perhaps dark with disuse, places of my heart.   

    The Mutual Rescue stories soothed the “what-ifs” holding me back from finding another pet.  I remembered why I was searching.  My heavy heart eased open to possibilities.

    Perhaps your story is like this too—unknown until it’s time to know it.


    Sometimes the perfect story finds you.  And sometimes it’s up to you to tell the story.

    I invite you to Writing Class: Story Journeying starting May 20 (registration deadline May 15) to write the story that wants to be told by you.  

    Let your heart lead. Connecting on an intuitive soul level to the story that wants to be told by you takes the pressure off and leaves you open to the unexpected–what’s truly needed.  

    There’s nothing quite like the magic of discovering the story that pushes all your buttons in the best ways, allowing for cathartic healing.

    P.S. A notebook of daily gratitude helped me through a tough time years ago.  Leyna was my easiest source of joy at the time, which meant the notebook was mainly about her.  

    Inspired by the power of animals, spiritual connection, grounded presence, and gratitude, please join me for Gratitude Writing on May 13 to feel the uplifting abundance of your own gratitude.

    P.P.S. If you want to write, check out Time To Write, 1st and 3rd Mondays at 1pm PDT.  Next one is May 3.

    You Are Not Limited By Your Current Story

    With springtime, new moon energy, flowers blooming, plants growing, and sun shining, the energy of new beginnings, creative action, and accelerated growth is here.  

    If you’re not feeling that, it’s okay.  

    Sometimes when you’re in the midst of your current reality, it’s impossible to imagine anything different.

    The idea that your value is determined by your productivity or accomplishments is a capitalistic lie.  

    • When an injury or chronic conditions flare and pain leaves you sidelined and grumpy, you might not be able to imagine the joy of dancing.
    • When you don’t sleep well, you might not be able to imagine the rush of waking up feeling inspired and productive.
    • With trees bare, you might not imagine the pleasure of drinking in the sight of full, lush roses and bright orange poppies.
    • Weighed down by sweats and blankets in the cold, you may not imagine the freedom of shorts.

    It’s easy to equate what’s true at present with your identity. E.g. “I am a grumpy person” vs “I’m feeling grumpy;” “I am not a morning person” vs “I’m feeling tired this morning.” It can be really hard to see beyond the present.  

    Here’s a reminder: You are not limited by your current story.

    Two things can help when feeling smothered in a non-ideal reality:

    1. Focusing on the goodness presently available. Gratitude is a tool for this.
    2. Taking incremental action steps towards your dreams without judgement for “how much” you get done. Setting aside time to write is one such action.

    These are my upcoming offers to you. Use some of the extra daylight to put energy towards your dream writing projects and expand the sensation of abundance available through gratitude.  

    What you need to know about perfectionism

    woman struggling with perfectionism
    Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

    Calling anyone plagued by perfectionism.

    How it shows up varies. Maybe you

    • Try to fix everything.
    • Want everything to be perfect.
    • Spend hours putting everything in order.
    • Feel anxious or guilty about making a mistake.
    • Read something over and over before hitting send.
    • Get lost in the details and lose sight of the big-picture.
    • Have high, impossible-to-reach standards for yourself or others.

    Diligence in the form of care is great. It’s good to be conscientious and ensure accuracy.

    But when meticulousness looks like hours lost in editing-mode to prevent a single mistake, out of anxiety to be seen for being imperfect… something there might welcome kindness.


    Imagine a monkey running around in your brain. It speeds towards an idealistic outcome you “must” achieve. Races to reach standards for perfection.

    The monkey frantically pushes levers for hyper-focus, constant improvement, and judgement as protection from external criticism.

    It’s exhausting. With your energy tied up in your busy head, there’s no space to feel joy.

    The thing is, the monkey is trying to help. It’s protecting you from how others will perceive a mistake. It might want you to have a positive reputation so you don’t feel the pain of other’s disapproval or the shame of lack. Possible worst-case, it’s saving you from being rejected and abandoned.

    So it finds mistakes. Focuses on these mistakes. Even when this is one typo in a 50 page document. Regardless of the entire document’s quality, you’re fixated on that one typo. So not fun.


    A mentor reminded me this week:
    Failure is how we do anything.
    Failure is the only way we get anywhere.
    Failure is not proof of lack of ability, knowledge, or expertise.
    Failure is simply how we learn.


    I’m curious what perfectionism means to you. Your comfort level with being a stone’s throw from an ideal vision. The standards you hold for yourself, consciously and unconsciously. The worst case scenario of making a mistake you’ve learned, lived, or fear.

    During Writing Journeys’ monthly meeting this Thursday evening (7-8:30 PM PDT) 4/7, we will explore how perfectionism may be impacting you (whether it’s mild or keeps you from your desires). We’ll shine a light into the layers so you can see it in a new way and soothe it.

    We’ll also call the monkey down from the intellect… to be soothed in safety, loved in imperfection, with permission to see beyond what it “needs to do.” So you can experience the beauty of life, as well as the growth from the inevitable times you fall short of perfection. And free yourself up to hit send on your writing and share your gifts.

    Hope to see you at this event. Please share with anyone you know who might benefit!

    If any thoughts arise out of reading this, I’d love to hear them. Comment and let me know. 🙂

    Registration link.
    $10-$30 suggested donation through PayPal.
    If you aren’t on Meetup but would like to attend, please send me a message.

    What If Upping

    What if I fail? What if no one likes me? What if I didn’t do that right?

    What ifs are so often the mind spinning into every negative catastrophe it can think of.

    What if… you switched that?

    I like to play with “what if upping.”

    What if… I could do what I love? What if… I discover tastier food that’s good for me?

    What if… the healthcare system is reformed and there is better, more universal access to quality healthcare for everyone?

    What if… I could meet whales? Swim with dolphins? Cuddle with big cats?

    What if…

    … … …

    This game was magic the first time I played two years ago. To my surprise, my “what if I travel to Sedona” became “I’m going to Sedona!” three weeks later. Though this may not be the norm, it feels good to remember anything is possible—both the negative and positive what ifs.

    Don’t forget to make time to dream.

    Remember how it feels to loosen up and have fun during my Writing Class: Playful Transformation. Starting soon! (March 1, 2021.) If you are planning to attend, please register.

    … … …

    What ifs don’t have to be either effervescent or disastrous. They also can help return to reality. What if… the door that just closed means what you truly want is just around the corner? What if… undergoing this struggle means help other people through it?

    Try writing the words “what if” at the top of a page. List out your own “what if…” dreams. Let yourself relax and be uplifted by those two words.